I sat on the second row of a darkened old theater and watched my boy, my oldest boy, that boy who emerged from me 11 years ago and made me a mother.  I watched in him in awe, as he pulled from reserves I did not know he had, to do something I did not know he could do.  He did it with abandon and confidence and joy, and I watched him, reluctant tears flowing down my cheeks ("Do not cry, do not cry," I told myself, "11-year-old boys do not like it when their mothers cry").

But I did cry, sitting there mercifully cloaked in the dark, and I was overcome with the idea that he’s not mine anymore.  Not really, not the way he was when he fit in the crook of my arm.  Every day he is stepping further down this road to being entirely his own person, doing things I did not teach him, excelling in things I cannot do.  It is astounding.

At the end, when the crowd roared, I shouted along with them:  "Bravo! Bravo!"  The words jumped out of me, barreling awkwardly past the lump in my throat. 

But in my heart, the words were quieter:  Bravo, my son, they whispered.  Bravo to you for finding what you love, and for doing it well.  Bravo to you for stepping gradually but surely away from your dad and me, making your own way in this world, standing bravely on the edge of what’s ahead and jumping in headlong.

Part of me wanted to whisper these thoughts to him, and to remind him that as he runs forward, we’ll still be here to catch him when he falls.  For surely, someday, he will fall, and certainly, someday, we will catch him. 

But this is not the night for such words.  There was no falling tonight.  There was no need for a safety net or a back-up plan.  It was a night for his star to shine so brightly that it cast light on the path in front of him.  He knows just where he’s going now.

It’s a funny thing, how a kid can grow up light years in just one evening.

Bravo, my boy.

63 thoughts on “Bravo

  1. The Secret Life of Kat says:

    Brilliant post…thanks for verbalizing some of the thoughts and feelings I’ve been having today.
    I just sent my oldest daughter off to her first day of full day school.
    Up until now, she’s been all mine. But now she’ll learn things I didn’t teach her and become a little less me and more her.
    Thanks for reminding me that letting go is a good thing…

  2. Headless Mom says:

    Bravo to 11 year old boy for his great feat, and bravo to mom for a special moment caught in your mind’s (and blog’s) eye.
    Next week I will take my oldest to college. Light years, indeed.

  3. Miss Wisabus says:

    I don’t know that particular feeling (though you articulated it in a way that makes me feel that I do), but I have been on the opposite end a number of times. And when you realize it’s happening, the other end is equally astounding.
    At work there are a number of women and men who have been moving their oldest child off to college this week. It’s made for a quieter office, but a much more emotionally charged one. It is one of those times when you know things will never be the same. I remember sitting and crying when my parents left me at my dorm room, five years ago tomorrow. Life is still changing, at an incredible pace.

  4. Frugal Babe says:

    Beautiful post. My son is 3 months old, and I am overwhelmed by how much I love him. It’s already amazing to watch him, and his biggest trick so far is rolling over and laughing at us. It will be quite a journey to watch him grow up. I love how you described this. And well done – you obviously raised a good kid.

  5. Laura V. says:

    My husband and I had a discussion along these lines last night about our 4.5 year old son. My question was “when did he become so self sufficient?” It wasn’t that long ago (though sometimes it does seem like an eternity!) that he couldn’t do anything w/o mommy or daddy helping. We are expecting our 3rd in just a few weeks and I’m feeling a little ‘older’ now because of this giant leap our oldest has recently taken.
    Thank you for reminding me to take the time to live in the moment and appreciate his newfound abilities while also marveling at the person he is becoming.

  6. Lynnet says:

    Wow! The emotion, love, and pride you have for him is wonderful. Thank you for sharing this with the rest of us. It really made me sit back and wonder if I tell my children “Bravo! you did great.” Thank you for touching our lives and opening your heart.

  7. Kristenkj says:

    What a beautiful post. Although I have to tell you, it really gave me an ache in my heart. Every year, when school starts again, I realize the kids are another year older, another year less mine, another year closer to flying away. I know it is the natural order of things, but boy, it is hard. As difficult as they can be when they’re little, I think this part of it is much easier than the letting go part is going to be.

  8. Beachmom says:

    Your sentiments are so ‘spot on’, and so beautifully written. Thank you for reminding all of us that the time we have when they belong to us is so fleeting, yet so rewarding when they begin to fly.

  9. MamaHenClucks says:

    Oh what a lovely post. It’s those moments that strike at the heart more than anything, that knowing that they are on their own path, that they no longer solely belong to us. What a wonderful, sweet moment.

  10. Dawn W says:

    Well written – you really captured the emotions of the moment.
    It’s amazing when time begins to be marked by the growth and changes of our children, isn’t it? It passes much too quick!

  11. Memarie Lane says:

    I think the moment I really became a mother was when I realized that my son doesn’t belong to me, but to God. And it was a relief too, because God is much more resourceful than I am! ๐Ÿ˜›

  12. Lisa says:

    I just love this post. Some of my greatest trials in my whole life have been as a mother, but the flip side of that is some of my greatest joys in my whole life have been as a mother. It’s bittersweet, isn’t it? But we wouldn’t trade it for anything, would we? And I totally agree with the above comment by Memarie Lane! Thank you for that reminder!

  13. MegnTally@Lonesome Pine says:

    Such a sweet post. I know exactly how you feel –wondering when this ‘growing up’ happened! I hate to tell you…it gets worse!!! You’ll turn around one day and they are showing you their college ID…and you say “Wait a minute! How did that happen so fast?”

  14. T with Honey says:

    I was just thinking the other night how someday my baby will grow up and sleep in another house and not want to crawl in bed with me any more.
    Then I remembered how much I loved it when my mom was here to take me to the ER this past spring. How she is always there for me when I need her. And someday, although our relationship will change, I will still be there for her when she needs me.
    It may bring tears but just as you felt at the theater, it is part of doing this mom-thing correctly. *sigh*

  15. Queen B says:

    Beautiful words. I think my proudest moment as a mother has been watching my daughter step out and do something completely amazing that was all her and zero me. It is when I first began to think of her as a person and not my child. Great post.

  16. Alicia Hall says:

    Sounds like you and I had the same epiphanies this week, both with our little fellows growing up. Very touching and inspiring. May we always revel in the triumphs and encourage in the tragedies.

  17. Crystal says:

    That really touched my heart. I have 2 boys myself (almost 8 & 9) they are growing up so fast.
    I hope that our boys will always want to need us. I know they will always need us, but the wanting to, is the part I hope for.

  18. World's Greatest Mommy says:

    Oh Shannon, that made me cry. It was like you were writing from my heart. My son is doing the same thing, and my bravo often feels bittersweet.
    But what he’s becoming is amazing and I’m thrilled to be along for the ride.

  19. Cheri says:

    So true, so beautiful. I’ll be watching from the stands tonight as my 12 year old son tests for his next belt in karate. Excelling beyond what I could have ever imagined. Doing something that is truly his own – all I do is drive him there and pay the bills . . . . lol. Congratulations to your son ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Sara says:

    Your blog is chocolate to my heart. I’m a brand-new mommy to a little boy and posts like this fill me to the brim. Thank you for sharing such beautiful thoughts! I’m a huge fan!

  21. Karen in AZ says:

    We raise them to be independent – and then they go out and ARE independent! How could they do this to us, their mothers! They would not exist without us, and yet there they are, doing exactly what we raised them to do!
    We went through this with our two. Now they are adults with their own children. And I really can’t believe these are the children I gave birth to! Look at them! Wow!
    Thank you, God! You are amazing in the works you perform in us!

  22. Lynn Cowell says:

    Hey Shannon,
    Remember me? I was your taxi driver from the airport for She Speaks. As I told you that day, I had been unable to sign up for any of the blogging sessions, but…I did get one of the blogging sessions on CD in my mail box today and I am ever so glad that I got it. Thanks for all the advice and I can’t wait to get changing my blog on Monday!
    PS – This post was beautiful. I have to say, having a 17 year old, 14 year old and 11 year old, I have had those moments more than once and though I feel sad, I also feel so very proud at what the Lord has done!

  23. Juli Jarvis says:

    I love this post. I’ve had this feeling so many times with our kids, over and over again. Right now, all three are in transition and it’s not certain which way they will go for their careers, etc. But this reminds me that God will lead them there, just as He always has in the past. Thanks again.

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